British Bites: Chilled Watercress Soup

British Bites

Classic British dishes updated for the modern American cook.


[Photograph: Sydney Oland]

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Watercress is a light leafy vegetable known for its light peppery flavor, and is used in salads, tea sandwiches, soups, and as a light garnish on roast suppers. Related to the radish and mustard, the flavor of watercress is a tad lighter than its bolder cousins, which makes it ideal for delicate preparations. This herbaceous green can be found on the table at all hours of the day, from breakfast straight through dinner.

This simple chilled soup makes total use of the watercress's flavor, which is gently supported by a russet potato and some sautéed leeks. Blanching the green before adding them to the soup can remove some of the bitterness, and make the final simmer go a tad faster.

In my opinion, a chilled soup of this variety should be pureed smooth, but it's all up to taste. This soup is absolutely delicious served warm and chunky as well—and if you're serving it warm, try adding a few bits of crumbled blue cheese. Chilled, a garnish of chopped chives is much ore appropriate.